Andrew Simpson who is in his late forties cannot actually remember the last time he visited the vegetable market in the vicinity. Instead of buying vegetables, he has been harvesting them in his small balcony attached to the living room to ensure an adequate supply of vegetables for his family of four, including his octogenarian father who is a vegan and lives only on veggies. Andrew lives in the quaint countryside which is just 60 kilometers of a drive from the main business district of Amsterdam. Andrew while writing a column on the emerging trend of urban firming for a popular tabloid repeatedly highlighted on how the idea of urban farming has unleashed a movement which is categorically revolutionizing the concept of sustainable habits, leading to more balanced and fulfilling life even in the urban landscape. According to Andrew, the concept of procuring vegetables and other items is fast picking up space not only in his hometown, but in the rest of the world as well. More than 15 prominent vegetable retail outlets in the outskirts of Amsterdam has already pulled the shutter down on their business ventures with many more weighing the option to phase out of the business or to cut down significantly on their inventory levels are driven by a strong apprehension of systematic downfall in the demand of vegetables and fruits in the event of the rising popularity of urban farming.
A teenager from London the city is spearheading the movement
Andrew’s story is not an instance in isolation anymore. We can, in fact, hear the same story reverberating everywhere across the globe. The same story echoes in the curious case of Alex Burton who is still in his teens living with his parents in the downtown of London. Alex has literally turned their lavish apartment into a vegetable orchard cultivating a wide range of items ranging from spinach, carrots, cauliflower to chilies. Despite travelling to a bustling market nearby jostling with others for making a passage to the vendors in order to bargain over the price and buy vegetables often at an exorbitant price with an apprehension about the quality and freshness quotient of the harvest, Alex’s parents just need to walk towards the balcony in order to pluck the fresh vegetables right from its branches ready to be cooked and served hot on the platter. 150 Square feet of the balcony that lay unused previously has now become the most productive and amazing corner in the apartment which have changed their lives forever. Alex has been shot to fame in the locality, as his neighbor keep pouring in almost every day just to have a look at how a small piece of the unceremonious balcony has been retrofitted into a breeding ground for seasonal vegetables. Alex seems to have been emerged as a miracle boy who with a smile of achievement oozing out from his leaps explains to the utter amazement of the visitors how she has made it possible. In an exclusive interview of Alex published in a popular daily of London, he claimed to have followed Youtube videos quite religiously to learn about the tricks of balcony farming. He has also illustrated how his interaction with the ardent urban farming enthusiast in social networking sites has helped him to groom himself in this form of farming. Alex is now preparing himself to take a plunge into it by converting his hobby into a full-time career. He is said to have been in talks with potential investors and the discussion is gradually maturing towards the threshold of money being finally invested into his venture which entails the idea of procuring vegetables for an entire community involving households in the neighboring areas and gradually spreading it far and wide. If things go as planned, in the next couple of years, Alex could be able to take a quantum leap towards the future of self-procurement of foods, which will eventually lead us towards a more sustainable future.
Alex and Andrew are not alone in their pursuit. There are thousands of unnamed and unsung activists who are silently working their way forward to transform the world into a much better place to live in by the means of promoting farming even on our rooftops, balconies and also in the extended ledge of the windows.
Why we need to have an alternative to the traditional way of Farming?
All of us are living in an era when the whole world is reeling under the potential apprehension of acute shortage of foods paving ways for famine to make its headway to mankind and leave it devastated forever. Traditional Farming is increasingly losing its sheen as it has been made a victim at the hands of indiscriminate and rapid industrialization. Large scale agriculture has always been instrumental in the attainment of the economy of scale in the production of crops intended to cater to the demand of the mass and it always lies under the shadow of uncertainties of natural phenomena. Rain, Sunshine, relative humidity and a perpetual cycle of the climate are some of the factors that determine both qualitative and quantitative aspects of agriculture.
Even though we have grounded our feet into the soil of the Moon, we cannot intervene in the occurrence of rain nor can we regulate the heat of the sun. Therefore, we cannot ever estimate with accuracy the quantum of production of a particular cereal or vegetable in a particular harvesting season. Consequently, if the actual production goes quite far from our projection, crops will perish either in transit or in cold storage, due to lack of logistical support required to be put in place beforehand. There are instances of cold storage is so packed to its capacity with potatoes that the cold storage door could be shut properly is quite rampant. As a result, the cold storage does not function to its optimum and a whole lot of the harvest rots and gets wasted.
If the production falls short of projections, the situation will go out of the gear, resulting in an acute scarcity. Black marketers will swing back into existence and they will start illegally warehousing the crops and sell it out in the market probably at a price far higher than the actual price of the agricultural items when the demand will soar high in the sky. In either way, the price of the crops will skyrocket, leaving thousands of people across the world on an empty stomach.
This is a kind of situation which had happened several times in the history of mankind and will keep scaring us till the time we become self-sufficient and self-reliant in terms of producing our own food grains. Any revolution starts with a tiny step and then things keep falling in place of its own to extrapolate it to the magnitude of a significant movement which will always be remembered as long as even a single human will survive on this planet.
Urban farming is shaping the future of smart living
Andrew, Alex and many others whom we don’t know by their names have already set the ball rolling. They have done their bit and now it is our turn to join in the bandwagon of change. What it takes is a change in the traditional mindset of buying everything from market coupled with a balcony or a rooftop which can eventually be transformed into your own small agricultural ground where you can grow your own staples. Let’s take a pledge today that we must not let go the efforts of Andrew and Alex in vain and we will strive to make this world more sustainable by implanting the idea of urban farming in every household.
Also Read: Why Urban Gardening Makes Sense